Purpose of Lesson:
The purpose of this lesson is to make connections through the unit and with other things students have already learned or will be learning and to assess the students' learning.
Major Strategies to Watch for:
Concept map - In this strategy, I use a shared concept map to help make connections with previous and future learning.
Learning Goal: Demonstrate what you know about food chains, food webs, and food pyramids.
Opening Question: What do you think the most important thing we've learned in this unit was?
Students record their answers in their learning goal sheets. This opening question is geared toward purpose -- what they found was important in this unit, and relevance -- explain why it was important. I can tell students what they are learning and why, but it is their learning and so it serves an important teaching purpose to ask the students rather than relying on my say-so. Also, I think the student answers are much more interesting and relevant than my examples and it often sparks a great discussion.
This silly video, by Junkfood Geographic, shows the FAST Food Chain is a great way to end this unit and start the class on a lighter note. At the end of the video, I ask the students to make a food chain of the fast food world.
On the day of any summative assessment, I like to take the time to wrap-up my instruction by using an animated interactive power point review. The purpose of the review is to give the students one more look at the content this time at a global perspective so that students can make connections and solidify their understanding.
In this review I am focusing on a few main ideas.
1) The arrow shows the direction of matter and energy flow.
2) Animals use the food to produce energy and build the make-up of their bodies.
3) Changes in the population of one animal or plant can effect the entire chain/web
For me, there are two important parts of the power point. First, I set it up to be interactive with several processing slides within the presentation so that students can hear thoughts from their peers as well as me.
Second, I use animation techniques in the powerpoint to capture student attention, include non-verbal visual cues, and allow for storytelling. Making animated powerpoints can be time consuming and tricky, but I love it and find it well worth the time.
Below are several screenshots of how to do different animations. Once you have the skills, the rest is up to your imagination!
Making basic entrance and exit animations
Using animations to tell a story
Adding in movement lines
The purpose of this section is to make a shared concept map that illustrates the learning within the unit and back to previous learning as well as to future learning.
To do this I pull students to the back of my room by one of my unused white boards. We have three norms at the board.
-Everyone sits on the floor.
-Everyone brings their map paper and a pencil.
-Everyone raises their hand to talk.
With students, I sketch out the unit on the board* and fill in some details. Students have the freedom to add more details to their maps. With each mini- unit, the maps grow in detail and connections. This is a picture of what one students' map looked like.
*Each unit, I print out the Essential learnings on tag board for the students. This also includes the success criteria for each standard and a tracking device. I give students a plastic cover to keep them in. This simple structure increases their worth to kids, showing them daily how important they are. Because this shows the tracking of learning it makes a very logical place to put the picture or concept map of learning on the back.
Here is a screencast where I explain this concept map and the thinking behind maps in general.
The purpose of this section is to assess the student learning. We take the test, but students also use this time to complete their learning tracker and show how their learning has grown throughout the unit. At the end of the test all students must answer this question to hand in.
"Using evidence from your learning tracker, prove that you have academically grown during this unit. What goals are you setting for your next unit and why?"
When students have completed their writing and the tests, I allow them to read or do vocabulary word search games.
Closing Statement: This unit has been about look at how matter cycles from one organism to another. Our next unit is going to specially examine some of the important chemical reactions involved in producing energy from food.
Closing Question: What do you think the most important ideas in this unit were and why? How does this information relate to your life?
Here are examples of student work.
Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening. You can find more information about how I manage closure here.